Bronx derailment kills 4, bringing new inquiry into Metro-North

Washington – The Metro-North train derailment Sunday that killed four and injured 67 in New York is once again subjecting the commuter railroad to congressional criticism and a federal safety investigation.

The accident near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx shut down the Hudson line, but it did not affect Amtrak or Metro-North service through Connecticut.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to the scene. The derailment was the second for Metro-North in less than a year and is the third major interruption of service, following a power outage on Sept. 25 that limited service into Connecticut for 12 days.

“This desperately tragic derailment dramatizes again the need for focus on railroad safety and reliability – adding powerful evidence to recent Connecticut incidents. Although causes must be determined, Metro-North must confront questions about adequacy of equipment, tracks, and maintenance and repair practices,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement issued Sunday.

Blumenthal conducted a field hearing after the power outage, eliciting testimony about an aging infrastructure.

The derailment Sunday at 7:20 a.m. sent four or five cars off the tracks. The passenger cars were being pushed by a locomotive. A witness told WABC-TV that the train seemed to be going too fast as it entered a sweeping curve, but NTSB officials offered no immediate comment on a possible cause.

A derailment May 17 near Bridgeport injured dozens of passengers and cost upward of $18.5 million in damages. The NTSB continues to investigate that accident.

In Sunday’s derailment, at least 11 of those hurt were injured critically, New York Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said.

The NTSB said it will release more information about the accident in a press conference in the Bronx Sunday afternoon.

Blumenthal said he will ask the NTSB for an expedited investigation,

“Riders are losing patience with this railroad and so am I. These severe accidents and service disruptions are unacceptable,” he said.